Capability versus Competence

As Situations and Problems move into the unknown, Capability is what gets you through.

During the recent session of my leadership course the presenter (Karl) raised an interesting point regarding the under-recognition of Capability compared to Competence.

If you aren't familiar with this, consider the image on the left. For any Situation, there are known and unknown situations. Similarly there are known and unknown Problems. Our ability to deal with Known Problems in Known Situations is reflected in out Competency. When we are presented with an Unknown Problem in an Unknown Situation, it is our abilities that assist us. This is our Capability.

The problem is that Capability is both hard to define and hard to measure.

Many in industry want be able to put a "tick in the box" when it comes to a persons abilities. This usually results in competencies being essential. Like Karl, I feel Capability is under-valued due to the difficulty in measuring it.

This also fits with my long held belief that in the "People versus Process" equation, People stand out. Sure process ensures replicable results, however when the inevitable problem arises that the process doesn't address, having good people with the autonomy to make decisions will get you through. It is their Capability that delivers in the end.

6 Responses to Capability versus Competence

  1. Great post, although I think you meant “Competence” rather than “Compentence” :)

  2. Problem with Blogs is that while I have a great editor that spell checks for me, the title isn’t covered :) All fixed now.

  3. Brett,

    Sorry to bother you again with a spelling error, but the title has “Capabilty” and it should by “Capability” (ity at the end).

    Daniel

  4. Pingback: Hamstaa! » The Publish Button is not as scary as you think

  5. This is a bad concept.

    Capability always indicate the “possibility” that the person have to do something, but may be he can not really do it.
    “I have the capability of speak in Chineese because i have all the neccesary for this, but i can not because i dont know chineese language”.

    Competence is always the capability but shown in practice, This is not the ” possibility” its real, practical.

  6. Pingback: Hamstaa! » Capability versus Competence revisited

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